I received Brad Gooch's newest release, Smash Cut, about two weeks ago. When TLC Book Tours mentioned this book was embarking on a virtual tour, I volunteered to review it for a couple of reasons, the first being that I am on a non-fiction bender right now. The second reason is that I've recently begun working with Shanti Project.
Shanti was the first organization of volunteers to respond during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1970s, and they continue to provide thousands of volunteer service hours annually to individuals with life-threatening illnesses. Having become involved with this incredible community, I wanted to increase my understanding of histories like Brad Gooch's - a story in which he watches his partner (director Howard Brookner) suffer with an early AIDS diagnosis, and all of its ramifications.
I won't lie - I didn't make it to the end of this book. Throughout the first several chapters, Gooch bombards the reader with rapid-fire name-dropping (of locations, of acquaintances). The book's title refers to a cinematic style involving jarring, unexpected transitions, so I worked to view the barrage of celebrity names through this lens. But after several chapters of being inundated with every famous writer, or singer, or painter Gooch crossed paths with, I felt like I'd been invited to a party simply to be ignored in the corner. The book is so for the writer that I didn't feel invited in to experience the awesome world he was working so hard to describe.
Other reviews on the tour suggest that later chapters are increasingly generous towards the audience, primarily when Brookner's life comes to the narrative's forefront. I wasn't willing to put in the hard time to get there, but those familiar with the 1970s NYC art/party scene might find the preliminary chapters more friendly than I.